About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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ch. 13:1-9    ch. 13:10-17     ch. 13:18-21

ch. 13:22-30     ch. 13:31-34   

Repent Or Perish (ch. 13:1 - 9)

This chapter begins with certain men telling Jesus that Pilate killed some Galileans. These Galileans were Jews who were at the Temple sacrificing. While in the process of the sacrificial ceremony Herodís soldiers apparently came in and murdered these Jews on the spot, which resulted in their blood being mixed with the blood of the animal sacrifices.

These men might have made this report to Jesus because He Himself was a Galilean.

Jesusí response might suggest another reason why these men told Jesus about this event, something that Herod had done before. Jesus asked these men if they thought that the dead men were worse sinners than others since they had suffered thus. Many people felt, as some do even today, that suffering like this is a result of sin in a personís life.

Jesus clearly and absolutely stated that sin was not the reason why these people died. Furthermore, if these men who brought this report to His attention did not repent, they would end up in the same boat. That is to say, they would perish in the long run. The perishing that Jesus is speaking about here is eternal perishing. Physical death is simply passing from one form of existence to another, and when and how that took place was not important. Repentance was important, because that determines oneís eternal destiny. Jesus believed and taught the importance of repentance, that is, turning directions, turning your life over to God through Jesus. This truth is often neglected in the modern gospel, yet one cannot have true faith without repenting. If you do not turn from the direction in which you are heading, how can you walk in faith towards God. You cannot walk east and west at the same time. If you are walking west and you want to walk east, you must first turn around. This turning is called repenting.

Jesus mentioned another event in His response. He reminded those who asked the original question of the Tower of Siloem falling and killing 18 men. Jesus asked the same question, "do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem"? (ch. 13:4)

Jesus answered His question with the same answer. No, those 18 men were not more guilty. Simply put, bad things that happen in oneís life is not a reflection of bad things done by that person. We live in a fallen world, and bad things will happen to us as a result. There is no way around that. We cannot judge a person by the things that happens to them.

Obviously, what we sow we reap. So some bad things that happen to us are a result of bad choices we make. Yet many bad things happen to us that are beyond our control. These come about because of the fallen world in which we live.

In the remaining part of this section Jesus tells a story. A man planted a fig tree in a vineyard. He put someone in charge of the tree and the vineyard. The owner noted that for 3 years this fig tree did not produce fruit so he asked the man looking after it to cut it down so it wouldnít waste nutrients in the soil. The man in charge of the vineyard suggested waiting one more year. During the year he would dig a trench around the tree, water and fertilize it well. If it didnít produce fruit then, heíd cut it down.

There has been speculation to what the vineyard is, what the fig tree is, and who are the men involved. Many suggest the fig tree is actually Jerusalem, and the vineyard is Israel in general. We should at least be able to say that the fig tree speaks of Israel, since that is pretty clear from Scripture. Whether the tree is Israel or Jerusalem it is clear that those involved did not produce fruit. In context the fruit spoken of here is repentance, for that is what Jesus has been speaking about.

Israel, and Jerusalem in particular (symbolizing Jewish leadership) had not come to repentance. Jesus has not found repentance in Israel so He is ready to cut the tree down in judgment. Paul speaks about something similar in Rom. 9 through 11.

God is not afraid to cut down, or to destroy and rebuild what He has originally built. God had no problem cutting off Israel, His chosen people, from Him. He had no problem destroying Jerusalem in judgment, as He did in 70 AD. God has not changed, what He did then to Jerusalem, He can do now to the church. If the church fails to repent, fails to change and follow Jesus implicitly then God will judge the church, cut her off and build a new church that will be offered a chance to produce fruit.

A Crippled Woman Healed On The Sabbath (ch. 13:10 - 17)

Even though the conflict between Jesus and the Jewish leadership has escalated greatly, they are still allowing Him to teach in their synagogues, as is the situation in this section. One possible reason for allowing Jesus to teach has already been stated. The Pharisees and the lawyers of the Law wanted to trap Jesus in the things He said and did.

On this particular Sabbath day there was a woman who was crippled. Luke tells us that the source of her problem was a spirit. It is debatable to suggest that all sickness and disease is demon related. I donít believe Scripture teaches this, yet at the same time, Luke tells us that this illness that this lady had was caused by a demon.

As stated earlier in my commentary, some suggest that people often thought that illnesses were demonic in those days. It was just their unlearned way of understanding the cause of sickness. To suggest this is to suggest that Jesus went along with misunderstanding. I donít believe that Jesus could have such a misunderstanding. If Jesus recognized this ladyís problem to be from a demon, then it was from a demon.

Once again, there is no formula to healing, and no formula to casting out demons. Jesus, in this instance does not speak to the demon. He only calls the lady to the front of the room and told her that she was better as He laid hands on her. She immediately straightened up and was no longer crippled.

In verse 14 Luke tells us that the synagogue ruler was "indignant". He said that there were 6 days of the week when man could work, so come and get healed on one of those days, not on the Sabbath. It is difficult for me to understand that in this cases Jesus or the lady did any work. All that Jesus did was lay hands on a lady. The lady did absolutely nothing, other than to stand up straight.

In verse 15 we see Jesusí response, and as usual of late, He calls the Jewish leaders "hypocrites". He continued and said, "doesnít each of you on the Sabbath untie his oxÖand lead it out for water" This rulers did more to get to the synagogue than Jesus did in healing this lady. The synagogue ruler was a complete hypocrites.

Jesusí logic was that if the Jewish leaders could look after an animal on the Sabbath, then a human being, and even a daughter of Abraham should have the privilege to be set free from satan on the Sabbath. Jesus makes only good common sense.

We also should note that Jesus attributes this illness to satan in His response to the Jewish leaders. He may not have cast out a demon by saying so, but He did cast the demon out by merely laying His hands on this lady.

This section ends by Luke telling us that the leaders "were humiliated", while the people, the congregation were very happy because of the healing that took place.

The Jewish leaders felt threatened by Jesus. They felt humiliated by Jesus in front of their people, and Jesus had no problem humiliating them publicly. This type of thing among Jewish leadership in Jesusí day can still be seen in the church today. Men wanting to build there own kingdoms are upset with the work of Jesus in many respects.

The Parables Of The Mustard Seed (ch. 13:18 - 21)

In verse 18 Jesus asked, "what is the Kingdom of God like"? He doesnít wait for an answer. He gives the answer Himself.

Jesus said that the Kingdom of God was like a mustard seed that was planted in the ground that grew up into a tree and the birds landed on its limbs and ate its fruit.

Jesus doesnít explain what He is talking about here but it is pretty clear. He is the mustard seed. His death is the seed being planted into the ground. The seed pushes up out of the ground in the resurrection and ascension. Branches are added to the plant when the Holy Spirit comes to Godís people. The result of the Holy Spiritís arrival is the fact that fruit is produced, and this fruit is for those passing by. Christians as individuals, and the church in general should produce fruit, and this fruit is a direct result of the Holy Spiritís involvement in both the individual and the church at large. This is why Paul describes the fruit as "the fruit of the Spirit". If there is no fruit of the Spirit, we can conclude that the Holy Spirit is not being allowed to do as He pleases. Therefore, to the degree in which we allow the Holy Spirit to have His way in our lives, and in our church lives, will be the degree of fruit that will be available for those who need it.

In verses 20 and 21 Jesus compared the Kingdom of God to yeast that a lady puts in bread. A small portion of yeast buried in dough can make the dough rise into a large loaf.

In both analogies something small becomes something much larger and productive. Growth is a vital part to the Kingdom of God. This growth began with Jesusí death, resurrection, and ascension. It continued on with the giving of the Spirit. It is Jesusí intent that the Kingdom grow and become fruitful and productive.

The Narrow Door (ch. 13:22 - 30)

In verse 22 we note that Jesus "went through the towns and villages as He made His way to Jerusalem". In one of these towns someone asked a good question. They asked, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved"? We can ask, "saved from what"? We as Christians are saved from many things, but the number one thing we are saved from is Godís wrath, because His wrath was poured out on Jesus while He was on the cross. For those who reject the cross how much more angry will God be. If God was upset enough to kill His Son, how much more upset will He be to those who reject His provision made on the cross.

Jesus answered by saying that many will try to enter by the narrow door. Two things to note here. One is that the door is narrow. This means that there is only one way to pass through the door. Jesus is the door, and you cannot get into the Kingdom other than going through Jesus. There is no other way. There is no other door. The door is certainly not wide enough to let those in who want to come in by other means. Then secondly, there are many who try to enter by other means, and through other names, but their attempt will not work.

Consider the millions of people over the centuries who have tried to be saved, tried to enter Godís Kingdom and escape His wrath through other religions. They havenít, and they will never enter in unless they repent and acknowledge that Jesus is the only door keeper.

At some point this door will be locked by the owner of the house. God the Father is the owner of the house, and Jesus is door keeper. Now, during the age of Godís grace the door is open to anyone who comes in the name of Jesus, but at some future date, the door will be closed for good. Once the door is closed many will be outside pounding away at the door to get in.

In verse 25 Jesus said that the door keeper will say "I donít know you Ö" It will be too late for anyone to enter after the door is shut and locked.

In verse 26 the people knocking at the door after it is locked tell Jesus that they ate and drank with Him and He taught them in their streets.

Jesusí reply will be the same. "I never knew you Ö go away you evildoers". Both in Judaism in the Old Testament times, and Christianity in New Testament times there will be many who heard the gospel, ate and drank in churches but were not true believers. Just because someone sits in a church pew, or eats a meal in a church building does not mean He is a true Christian.

Jesus speaks to what it is like outside the door. He said that people will be gnashing their teeth and weeping. It will not be a happy place to be.

In verse 28 Jesus spoke of the future Kingdom of God where Abraham and Jacob and the prophets of old will be, yet the present generation of Jewish leaders will only see them from a distance because they will be locked out of the Kingdom.

Jesus continued by saying that there would be people from the east, west, north and south, sitting and eating at the feast in the Kingdom of God. Then in verse 30 he said that the last will be first and the first will be last. Jesus is saying that ordinary people, ordinary Jews of the day who gave their lives to Him would be at that feast. But the important people of the day, the Jewish leaders would be outside starving.

This tells me something. We should never do anything in Godís service to be seen and recognized. If we go quietly about doing Godís will, He will reward us in this future Kingdom. The problem is that many do Godís work simply to be seen and heard and recognized. These peopleís work will be burned with fire.

So what really was the answer to the original question concerning who and how many people would be saved? We donít know the statistics. That is to say, Jesus didnít give a percentage of how many people would end up in the future Kingdom of God. What He said was that many will try to enter the Kingdom but wonít make it, and those who will make it will consist mostly of ordinary people, not necessarily important leaders or VIPís.

Jesusí Sorrow For Jerusalem (ch. 13:31 - 34)

In verse 31 the Pharisees suggested to Jesus that He should leave because Herod was out to kill Him. Were these particular Pharisees truly concerned about Jesusí well being? It is hard to say. Maybe some were, then maybe they just wanted to get rid of Him. Maybe they were tired of His teaching that always seemed to put them down.

Verse 32 is interesting. Jesus replied by saying, "go tell that fox, I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal". Jesus is now calling the Roman leaders names, and in this instance the name is "fox". Once again, we see Jesusí disgust with leadership that has gone astray. Jesus was very hard on leaders, whether they were Jewish or Gentile.

It is clear that the reference to His goal that would be achieved on the third day is the resurrection. We know that today after the fact, but I donít believe those listening to Him understood those words. They were probably more stunned by Jesus calling Herod a fox.

Then Jesus said that He must keep going on towards Jerusalem because no prophet could die outside of Jerusalem. The irony in this is that Jerusalem was supposed to be the city of God, where the Temple was, the centre of Jewish faith, but it was the place where many of Godís prophets were killed.

Jesus had just spoken about the resurrection, and now He speaks of His death in terms of a murder, as the prophets of old were murdered. All these murders, including Jesusí death were done in the name of God. Many people have been killed in the name of God throughout the centuries.

I will quote the next words that Jesus utters. He has been very upset with the Jewish leaders, but He is more than upset. He has great sorrow over the Jewish people, and especially those who live in Jerusalem, the city of God. He said, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, "blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord".

The day in which Jesus spoke about when they would call Him blessed is the day in which He finally arrives in Jerusalem with a great crowd of people cheering Him on.

You can certainly see the compassion and the love Jesus had for the Jewish people, and even the leaders. That is why He was so upset with the Jewish leaders. They were refusing to follow the ways of their own God. They were failing to recognize the Messiah that they long awaited for. The result would be that their house would be left desolate, which was the case after 70 AD when Jerusalem was totally destroyed. Jews lost their city, the city of their God. They were scattered throughout the world, and a nation of people without a nation.

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